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How to: Build a relationship with a landscape architect

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Life will be much easier on a project when you avoid confrontations with a landscape architect, which will hopefully make the process more efficient and the job more profitable.

Brian Horn | December 27, 2011

Whether it's your personal or professional life, when everyone is on the same page, life is easier.

That's also the wisdom behind forming a solid working relationship with a landscape architect.

Life will be much easier on a project when you avoid confrontations with a landscape architect, which will hopefully make the process more efficient and the job more profitable. One thing to remember is the landscape architect isn't looking forward to being difficult or stubborn, so neither should you because the customer ends up suffering.

"None of us, I hope, are really in this to go out there to have head-butting sessions," says Keven Graham, principal/landscape architect with Planning Resources. "That's not what we want to do. We want to see good projects designed and built. And, it needs to be really looked upon as it's a team; it's a partnership to getting a project built for the client. We shouldn't be building projects just for my portfolio."  – Brian Horn

 

  1. Communication is absolutely critical, so you need to contact the architect when something is changed. "At the beginning of a project, don't assume something. Call me, and talk to me. As a landscape architect, we understand and we know that changes are going to be made in the field. We're OK with that, but we need to be part of the process," Graham says.
     
  2. There needs to be a mutual respect. "In the end, as a landscape architect, I know, my design is only as good as the contractor who puts it in. From the landscape contractor standpoint, his project is only profitable and functional and good if the plan is followed and if we're working together to build the right thing," Graham says.
     
  3. Follow the plans and specs, and read them before you bid. "I think, too often, people assume that specifications are the same thing that they've been for 20 or 30 years," Graham says.
     
  4. Get your paperwork completed. If you do paperwork properly, Graham says it helps him do his job, and helps you get paid. "I have to go through and look at pay invoices, and I need the paperwork and documentation," he says. "I can't just slide it through for someone."
     
  5. Volunteer to help landscape architects. Graham says some architects have lunch-and-learns that contractors can participate in as a resource. It will give an architect a chance to pick your brain. "Landscape architects can learn a lot too," Graham says. "We don't know everything."


Illustration by Ron Wilson

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